The Pittsburgh Penguins put their third consecutive win together tonight, thanks to the sharp play of goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. Fleury made 36-saves against the struggling New York Rangers and posted his 1st shutout of the season, and the 8th of his career. The Penguins, who were outshot 36-22, should be thankful that Fleury was in net as he allowed them to steal a win on a lone goal by Evgeni Malkin.
With 2 seconds to go in the first period, Rangers’ Right Winger Ryan Callahan was called for a tripping penalty (his second offense of the night). The late call allowed the Penguins to start the 2nd period on the man advantage. As they have done in each of their first 7 games, the Penguins found a way to capitalize on the power play chance. Evgeni Malkin jumped on a loose puck to flip a wrister past Rangers’ tender Henrik Lundqvist just 44 seconds into the second period. The goal was Malkin’s 3rd goal and 8th point in 8 games, and was assisted by Sidney Crosby and Ryan Whitney. Just 24 seconds after Malkin’s goal, Jordan Staal drew a penalty shot call on a breakaway chance, but was unable to put the puck by Lundqvist. Despite a few post ringers by both teams, the goal by Malkin stood as the game’s only marker.
Marc-Andre Fleury appears to be settling into his game and is starting to play with the confidence and positional excellence that he exhibited through much of last season. This comes as a relief to many fans, who were starting to question his reliability after struggling in his first few starts of the season. But after being benched for a game, and spending some quality soul searching time with Goalie Coach Gilles Meloche, Fleury appears to be returning to the form we saw last year. He has gone 2-0-0 in his last two games, allowing just 1 goal on 67 shots. In those 2 games, he has a 0.50 GAA and 0.985 save percentage. It would appear that Fleury is determined to silence his critics. He did get some help in the last two games from the post, but maybe they are in some small way a payback for a couple of bad bounces in the early going. The hockey Gods are now smiling on the flower.
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The Pittsburgh Penguins return to the Mellon Arena on Thursday when they host the Toronto Maple Leafs for their second matchup of the season. The Penguins beat the Leafs in Toronto by a score of 6-4 on October 13th. They will be looking to do it again come Thursday night.